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The Painter's Chair: George Washington and the Making of American Art Hardcover – February 3, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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“[A] lively narrative…A novel, ingeniously executed approach to the inspiring man whose dollar-bill likeness is arguably the most reproduced painted image in history.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Intricate and engaging…Howard's story is…not only about the birth of American painting, but--through the creation of its first, most long-lasting, and most transcendent human icon--about the invention of America itself.” ―The American Scholar
“Patron of the arts is not the first association one makes with George Washington, but Howard elegantly makes the case that the founder of the nation also helped establish America's art. Though architecture, not painting, was Washington's preferred art, America's first prominent artists painted him: Charles Willson Peale, John Trumbull, Benjamin West and Gilbert Stuart, the most distinguished American painter of the period. Washington, who Howard argues was "easier to see and admire than to understand," is subtly revealed in a narrative that is precisely paced and elegantly composed.” ―Publishers Weekly
“In the delightful The Painter's Chair: George Washington and the Making of American Art, Hugh Howard develops the idea of Washington as a patron of the arts and examines how art and the painting of portraits developed in the United States.” ―Book Page
“Hugh Howard's highly original work offers a completely new perspective on the Father of our Country, examining his life through the eyes of six of the 28 artists for whom he sat, showing how his increasing fame accelerated the development of American painting, and offering insight into how history and myth are made by images…History is a story, a myth that we are told and that we tell one another, that defines our existence as a people and a nation. What Hugh Howard so deftly tells in this important book is how the arts of painting and sculpture came to take an increasingly central part in our understanding of the first decades of the United States. He also alters our understanding of that amazing man, George Washington” ―Dallas Morning News
Top Customer Reviews
His argument is simple: the image of Washington was so desired by the American public that the first president's portraiture encouraged early American painters to establish an art culture that was previously non-existent. Washington sat in "the painter's chair" for Charles Wilson Peale, his son Rembrandt, John Trumbull, and perhaps most importantly, Gilbert Stuart, whose portrait is on the one-dollar bill.
Washington hated to sit for his portrait, but he obliged a series of painters by posing for them, and in doing so, established portraiture, and subsequently landscape painting, as an art form to be admired and encouraged in the newly-created nation. In this well-researched account, Howard's narrative of the lives and careers of the nation's first painters is a short history of early American portraiture, and of the popularity of Washington to his countrymen.
As is true of Howard's earlier works, this is a gracefully-written, highly-readable book, an engaging feast for anyone interested in American history or American art.
Some books of history are important works of research but dreadfully dull to actually read. Not this one. These intertwined stories of the founding fathers of the American nation and the founding fathers of American art comprise a fascinating, decades-long drama. The Painter's Chair will be a contender when the awards are presented for best history book of 2009.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent read for anyone who likes biographies of early American artist, Washington or history of early American art or history of the revolution and early republic. Read morePublished 8 months ago by greer1890
The challenges & techniques of capturing the image and essence of the subject are vividly rendered.... Read morePublished on December 30, 2013 by DBHawaii
This is a book that tells the story of our first president through art history. Perfect for anyone who is interested in U.S. History and Art. Read morePublished on November 7, 2012 by swampqn
This book is interesting and tells unique insight into George Washington's life. I love the use of different paintings and the anecdotes in between them.Published on July 2, 2012 by fun
Hugh Howard has manages to create a complete reading pleasure in "The Painter's Chair." Readers simultaneously learn about American revolutionary history (many of the early... Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Jeannette
I was excited to pick up this book as I found the concept to be very intriguing. However, after reading it I found The Painter's Chair to be rather dry and a trudging read. Read morePublished on August 5, 2009 by Amadeus
George Washington liked to be doing things. He liked getting out to inspect how work was going in the different regions of his vast plantation at Mount Vernon, and he liked... Read morePublished on April 28, 2009 by Rob Hardy